You probably know of iPads as excellent all-around tablets – and some of the best on the market right now. But you might be aware that iPads are also perfect for drawing – both for fun and for professional artists.
You can use an iPad for any digital art or illustration. It’s also ideal for graphic design, photo editing, or drawing cartoons and doodles.
Just pair your iPad with an Apple Pencil, and you can draw straight onto the screen. And with the iPad’s power and performance, it can run even the most demanding apps. So, you’ll have no problem using Photoshop, Illustrator, or other drawing programs.
There’s even Procreate, a digital art app only available for iPads. So, it’s clear that you can use your iPad as a drawing tablet (as well as all its other uses).
Now, let’s dive in and take a look at the best iPads for artists and help you narrow down the options. I’ve also put together a buying guide to help you choose which iPad is right for you.
Best iPad for Artists: Buying guide
Now, you have a good idea about which iPad you should get for drawing. In this buying guide, I’ll highlight some things to consider to help you make your decision.
iPads range in size from the tiny iPad mini right up to the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. That means you can take your pick when it comes to the size. But if you’re looking for an iPad, a larger screen is always beneficial.
It will give you more space to work on. So, you can let your creativity flow and your pen move freely around the surface.
For that reason, many artists find the iPad Mini is just too small. But it is compact and portable, making it easy to take anywhere. If you plan on commuting or traveling with your iPad, think about how you’ll carry it around. You don’t want it to weigh you down or become an extra burden you have to take with you.
When you want to do digital art on an iPad, the display is a crucial factor. You want a high-resolution screen that produces crisp images and vibrant colors. It should be as accurate as possible, which won’t be an issue if you go for an iPad with True Tone display.
But you should also look up the refresh rate of the screen. The faster the screen refreshes, the smoother your user experience will be. For example, the iPad Air only has a 60-Hz refresh rate, but the iPad Pros have a superb 120-Hz refresh rate. That means you’ll encounter fewer lags as you draw.
Another key factor is whether the screen is laminated or not. You don’t have any gap between the screen and the pen on laminated screens. But if you go for a non-laminated screen, you may have some parallax, making it harder to draw accurately.
Generally, all iPads have excellent screens, and they are all suitable for digital art. But if you compare an iPad Pro with a regular iPad or iPad Air, you will notice a difference.
When you’re creating digital art or design files, they can take up a lot of space. So, using as much storage space as possible is always wise. Then, you won’t have to keep clearing out, deleting files, or transferring them to the cloud.
More space allows you to work with more layers in Photoshop and Procreate. It will provide you with more flexibility and customizability for your artwork.
Some older iPads start with a base amount of 64 GB, and you’ll have to pay up if you’d like more. But the newer iPads tend to have a generous amount of 256 or 512 GB.
You don’t want to regret your decision, so think carefully about how much space you’ll need before you buy.
RAM is another vital factor, but it’s okay if you’re not sure what it actually does. It stands for ‘random-access memory’. It’s what allows your iPad to access your recent files, programs, etc.
So, the more RAM you have, the faster your iPad will function. That translates to allowing you to work with more layers or run several programs at the same time.
But if you opt for an iPad with less RAM, you may experience more lags, delays, and even crashes. Your device could slow down, which can get frustrating if it happens often enough.
You may want an iPad mainly for drawing and illustration. But iPads are very versatile, so have a think about whether there are any other features you’d like. For example, the latest iPad Pro has an incredible camera and even comes with an ultra-wide lens.
Or if you want to use your iPad to stream videos, check out the audio quality of the speakers.
Finally, you’ll need to keep your budget in mind when choosing an iPad. It’s safe to say that none of the iPads are cheap, but some are much more budget-friendly than others.
If you want the latest model with the highest specs, you’ll have to splash out. But you can find excellent, reasonably priced iPads like the iPad Air out there.
So shop around, check out my reviews above, and take your pick of these iPads for artists!
Apple Pencil I vs II
Both the Apple Pencil and the Pencil II are excellent digital pens. They work seamlessly with iPads and beat any third-party styluses by far. But what are the real differences?
With the Apple Pencil II, you also get some extra features the original model doesn’t have. For example, the pencil attaches magnetically to your iPad, so you don’t risk losing it. You can also charge it this way, so it’s much more user-friendly and
The Apple Pencil II also has a matte finish and a flat edge, making it more comfortable to hold. Plus, it has a customizable button on the flat side of the pen.
Most importantly, you’ll need to find out which one is compatible with your chosen iPad.
The Best Drawing iPad
Top 3 iPads for Drawing: Quick Comparison
If you’re short on time, here’s what you need to know about the best iPads for artists.
In my opinion, the best iPad for drawing overall is the iPad Pro 5th Generation. It was just released in 2021 and packs the latest Apple M1 Chip and the best specs. This iPad blows all the others out of the water with its gorgeous screen and its speed and power.
But if you’re looking for a slightly cheaper option, check out the iPad Pro from 2020. This 4th Gen model is a great runner-up, as it doesn’t have any light bloom issues. It has a beautiful Liquid Retina display, vivid colors, and works well with the Apple Pencil.
And I’ve found that the iPad Air is an excellent budget option. It gets the balance just right between price and performance. It’s slightly smaller, which makes it compact and portable. But the screen still has a high resolution and wide color gamut. So, it’s ideal for any budding (or even experienced) artists on a budget.
|Product Name||iPad Pro 12.9 inch||iPad Pro 12.9||iPad Air|
|Size||11.04 x 8.46 x 0.25 inches||11.04 x 8.46 x 0.25 inches||9.74 x 7.02 x 0.24 inches|
|Resolution||2732 x 2048 pixels||2732 x 2048 pixels||2360 x 1640 pixels|
|Storage space||512 GB||256 GB||64 GB|
|RAM||8 or 16 GB||6 GB||4 GB|
|Connections||Thunderbolt/USB 4||USB-C 3.1||USB-C|
Apple 12.9-inch iPad Pro
(Image credit: Apple)
The latest iPad Pro, released in 2021, provides superb power and has outstanding specs.
Apple has added their amazing Apple M1 Chip to this new model. As a result, it has the smoothest functioning of all iPads out there.
So, you’ll have no problem running even the most intensive apps or using several layers in Photoshop. You shouldn’t encounter any lags at all. So, you can create a faster, more streamlined workflow than ever before.
The super-fast 120 Hz refresh rate is another huge bonus. It means there’s no detectable parallax or delay between the pen and the screen. You’ll see what you draw instantly and have greater precision for your designs.
It also has a long battery life and a fantastic camera with an ultra-wide lens. It has tons of storage space and an improved RAM of 8 or 16 GB. Plus, the 5G capability and the Thunderbolt connection allow for fast downloads and streaming.
The iPad Pro 2021 is ideal for drawing, thanks to the fine details and accurate colors. The Liquid Retina XDR display is jaw-droppingly beautiful and vibrant.
You get deep blacks, amazing contrast, and vivid, accurate colors. The adaptive screen lighting adjusts automatically for the best viewing experience possible.
The only downside is that you get a lot of light bleed on dark backgrounds. That means you get a bloom of bright light with dark and white areas next to each other. So if that’s a deal-breaker for you, scroll down and check out my other reviews.
When paired with the Apple Pencil II, it’s an exceptional tablet for drawing. This newer, improved stylus offers tilt and pressure sensitivity and wireless pairing. It feels more comfortable in your hand than the earlier Apple Pencil. Plus, it attaches magnetically to your iPad, making it easy to find.
The large size gives you more space to draw, but it’s still pretty lightweight. But if you’d like something more compact, check out the iPad Air or the Mini below.
I think there’s a lot to love about the iPad Pro 2021. It’s not cheap, but if you can afford it and don’t mind the light bloom, it could be perfect for you!
- Size: 11.04 x 8.46 x 0.25 inches
- Resolution: 2732 x 2048 pixels
- Storage space: 512 GB
- RAM: 8 or 16 GB
- Connections:Thunderbolt / USB 4
- A powerful, streamlined tablet that can run any drawing app
- You get a seamless drawing experience with the Apple Pencil II
- The screen is gorgeous with high contrast, deep blacks, and bright colors
- Excellent features from speakers to storage space
- There is an issue with light bloom on black backgrounds
Apple iPad Pro
Runner-Up – Best iPad for Artists
(Image credit: Apple)
Next up is an earlier 4th Generation version of the Apple iPad Pro, dating from 2020. You might be a little confused about the differences between the 2020 and 2021 models. So, in this iPad Pro drawing review, I’ll explain what they are and help you decide if either is right for you!
As I mentioned, this model is slightly older but has the same dimensions. It has also been discontinued by Apple, but it’s still widely available new and secondhand online.
Where the 2020 model differs is in many of the specs and features. That includes the chip, display, and other features like memory and RAM.
This older model has the A12Z chip, rather than the newer Apple M1 chip. It’s still pretty robust but doesn’t pack as much power as the 2021 model. But you should still be able to run the Adobe suite without any worries.
Other differences include less storage space – this one comes with 256 GB. That’s not bad, but you could run out of space if you create lots of large file sizes. And it has 6 GB RAM compared to 8 or 16 GB in the latest model.
It’s worth highlighting these differences, but don’t let them put you off the iPad Pro 2020. It’s still an outstanding tablet, and it’s ideal for artists. Ultimately, you might not even notice the difference if you’ve never used the 2021 model.
In fact, there’s a good chance you might even prefer the 4th Gen iPad. It doesn’t have the light bloom issues caused by the LED lights in the 2021 iPad’s XDR display. So, the screen looks sharper and you may find it more accurate, especially on a darker background.
So, how does it fare for drawing? You’ll find that the iPad Pro is a dream to draw on. It’s smooth and responsive, giving you excellent feedback and more precision.
The high resolution and Liquid Retina display will make your drawings look amazing. And with the laminated screen, you don’t need to worry about any parallax or delay.
That makes it perfectly suited for artists. And you’ll probably appreciate that it’s a fair bit cheaper than the 5th Gen iPad Pro. Overall, it’s an excellent iPad in my opinion.
- Size: 11.04 x 8.46 x 0.25 inches
- Resolution: 2732 x 2048
- Storage space: 256 GB
- RAM: 6 GB
- Connections: USB Type C 3.1
- A fantastic cheaper alternative to the 5th Gen iPad Pro
- It has decent specs and a vibrant, high-resolution display
- The laminated screen prevents any parallax
- You don’t get any of the light bloom problems
- It doesn’t have as much storage space or RAM
Apple iPad Air
Best Budget iPad
(Image credit: Apple)
If you’re looking for a cheaper option, consider going for the iPad Air. The 4th Gen iPad Air came out in 2020 and is much more affordable than the iPad Pro.
But you still get an excellent screen resolution and vibrant, bright colors. There’s little difference between the iPad Pro in this regard. You’ll find that the colors are accurate and true-to-life. So, it’s a great pick for digital artists on a budget.
The iPad Air is also more compact and easily portable than the iPad Pro. So, if you travel a lot, you may find this model more practical.
Where it differs from the iPad Pro is that it doesn’t have such a fast refresh rate. With only 60 Hz compared to the faster 120 Hz, you may notice small lags on the screen. It’s not hugely significant, but it’s worth mentioning as it could influence your decision.
You might also miss the larger storage space of the iPad Pro. The Air only comes with 64 GB, so you’ll need to back up your files to the cloud. That can irritate after a while, and you’ll find it fills up quickly. So, you have less space for your apps, files, and extra brushes and layers in tools like Procreate.
To sum up, the iPad Air is a great, quick, and easy to use, with a good interface. The screen is high-resolution with bright colors but lacks a faster refresh rate.
Despite that, both hobbyists and pros could use it for creative work and drawing. If you’re looking for a lower-cost iPad, snap this one up!
- Size: 9.74 x 7.02 x 0.24 inches
- Resolution: 2360 x 1640 pixels
- Storage space: 64GB
- RAM: 4 GB
- Connections: USB-C
- It’s a great budget iPad that’s very portable and compact
- The screen is great with a high resolution and bright colors
- It provides an overall good user experience
- It doesn’t have as much storage space which can be annoying
- The lower refresh rate means the screen sometimes lags a bit
Apple iPad Mini
Best Compact iPad
(Image credit: Apple)
Finally, we have the iPad mini. Although it’s significantly smaller than the other models, it could still be right for you. So, let’s take a closer look at it.
If portability is your highest concern, then the iPad mini fits the bill. As the name suggests, it’s compact and easy to take anywhere. That means it also fits nicely in your hand and is very lightweight.
But you get a much smaller space to work with when drawing. Many artists will find that limiting, especially if you’re used to a large tablet. You lose a lot of the screen to those large bezels, leaving you with a tiny active drawing area.
When it comes to the display itself, there’s nothing to fault. With the Retina display and high resolution, you get a crisp image and colors that really pop.
So, it looks great, is nice and bright, and also works seamlessly with the Apple Pencil. The stylus provides tilt and pressure sensitivity, giving you accuracy and control.
Beyond that, you get a long battery life of up to 8 hours on a full charge.
The iPad mini sets itself apart from the other iPads due to its tiny size. It’s compact and easy to fit into a pocket or any bag so you can work on the go. Plus, it’s much cheaper so it won’t set you back as much money as the more expensive iPads out there.
But the drawback is that you may find the screen too small to actually draw on. You’ll need to zoom in and out a lot, so it’s not the smoothest way to draw. The specs themselves are great, but you’ll need to decide whether it’s too small for you.
- Size: 7.69 x 5.3 x 0.25 inches
- Resolution: 2266 x 1488 pixels
- Storage space: 64 GB
- RAM: 3 GB
- Connections: USB-C
- A compact little iPad that you can use on the go
- It has a long battery life and a great Retina display
- The colors look bright and true to life
- It works well with the Apple Pencil
- The screen is too small for many artists – you may find it limits what you can do
Best Digital Stylus for iPads
(Image credit: Apple)
If you’re buying an iPad, you’ll need a digital stylus to draw with. Your best bet by far is the Apple Pencil as it was designed specifically for Apple products.
The Apple Pencil works seamlessly with almost every iPad on the market today. But you will need to find out whether you need the original model or the newer Apple Pencil II.
This fantastic stylus is super responsive and syncs flawlessly with the iPad. You should see your pen marks instantly on the screen.
It also offers pen tilt and pressure sensitivity. What that means is that you can apply more or less force to create clever shading effects. You get more control and can draw thinner or thicker lines. So, you can produce detailed, accurate works of art.
- Size: 6.92 inches
- Weight: 0.73 oz
- Connections: Bluetooth, lightning connector
- An excellent stylus with tilt and pressure sensitivity
- It’s the best digital pen to use with Apple iPads and functions seamlessly
- It feels nice in your hand and is very lightweight
- It doesn’t come with your iPad – you’ll need to buy it separately (and it’s not cheap)
The Wrap Up
Buying an iPad is an excellent idea as they are such powerful devices. You can create amazing art on an iPad, and they are also versatile multipurpose tablets.
But not every iPad will meet your needs. Now, you should better understand which iPad would be right for you.
I’ve picked out only the best iPad and highlighted the differences between each one. They all have gorgeous displays, high resolution, and work with the Apple Pencil.
Let me know which iPad you pick in the comments below – I’d love to know!
And make sure to follow me over on Pinterest! It’s where I share the best creative and tech resources and reviews to keep you up to date.
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